Assembly goes with lower numbers for JACC and Centennial Hall

    Juneau, Alaska (KINY) - The Committee of the Whole sent to the full Assembly proposals for $11.5 million to pay for renovations to Centennial Hall and a grant for the new arts and culture center.

    The Assembly has mulled over several proposals to address Centennial Hall renovations and construction of the new Juneau Arts and Culture Center.

    One ordinance would issue $7 million in revenue bonds, a second would issue $10 million.  Another proposal is to give the new JACC project a grant of $4.5 million while another would award a $7.5 million grant.  Yet another proposal to be heard in August would raise the hotel-motel tax from seven to nine percent to help raise revenues.  All of these proposals would have to get voter approval on October 1.

    The Committee decided to not put forth the $10 million in bonds and instead will go with the $7 million.  This item will be the subject of a public hearing on August 19.

    The ordinance said the $7 million will finance capital improvements.  Projects funded in Centennial Hall listed include upgrades to the heating, air-conditioning and ventilation, the sound system, lighting system and technology, the interior floors, furnishings and wall systems, expansion of the lobby, renovating and expanding break-out rooms, corridor and business center, and construct new meeting rooms, offices and a heated corridor between Centennial Hall and the new arts and culture center.

    The bond would be paid for by a temporary, 15 year, two percent increase in the hotel/motel tax, and an annual property tax levy of $4 per $100,000 of assessed value.

    The Committee also decided to push forth an ordinance that appropriates $4.5 million and not $7.5 million to the new JACC.

    Assembly Member Rob Edwardson supported the larger figure.  He described as a modest figure to pay for arts in the Capital City. 

    In order for the grant to be allocated, voters must first recommend providing the grant at the municipal election.  The voters must also authorize the general obligation bond proposition for Centennial Hall.  The city would not release the grant funds until the new JACC project is funded at 90%.

    $3.5 million would come from sales tax funds fund balance and $1 million from the fiscal year 2020 sales tax revenue.

    Assembly Member Michele Bonnet-Hale said from her understanding the JACC group needs the $7.5 million in order to construct the building.

    "It's a very difficult vote.  I think its a needed project for Juneau," she added.

    Assembly Member Edwardson supported the $7.5 million to equal the request of the new JACC supporters.  His motion for the higher number failed (5-2) with Bonnet-Hale the other supporter.  Mayor Beth Weldon, Vice Mayor Maria Gladziszewski, and Assembly members Carol Triem, Alicia Hughes-Skandijs, and Wade Bryson were opposed.

    Bryson said a higher amount of money would jeopardize the entire vote.  He suggested the lower number has a higher probability of gaining the support of the public.

    Bonnet-Hale said the lower number could make it harder for the project to succeed.

    Manager Rorie Watt said the CBJ would contract with the new JACC to pay the $4.5 million.  The supporters could then show the contract to other donors to perhaps help with fund-raising.

    CBJ staff will develop a proposal to introduce to the Assembly at the August 19 meeting. 

    Several items will be on the agenda including a ballot proposition for the $7 million bond for Centennial Hall, an advisory vote to provide a $4.5 million grant to the new JACC, and a proposal to have voters decide whether to raise the motel-hotel tax by two percent over 15 years.

    Assembly Members Loren Jones and Mary Becker were absent at Monday's meeting.




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